ali velshi in new york, and al jazeera reporters around the country and around the world as we wait for the president's >> hello, and welcome to aljazeera america. i'm de la fuente de la del walte the stories we're following for you. president obama taking his state of the union address for a spin. and both sides agreeing to work off of the same page.
>> we begin with the weather. an ice storm hitting the south hard. and we want to show you streets turned into parking lots in the middle of the storm. people rushing home or to pick up their kids were stuck for 14 hours. the national guard was called in to help out. and they are holding a news conference. >> we have not had any fatalities in the city of atlanta. we have had 71 automobile accidents, and our focus right now is to assist in any way to get our freeways cleared. so that we can start pulling people from cars, taking gasoline to cars that have run out of gas as a result of being on the road last night. >> also at this hour, georgia's
governor talking about the children stuck in the school. >> at 6 p.m., we had about 25,000 children who were either on buses or in their schools. the various schools in the system. by 9:00 p.m., it was down to 5,000 p.m. that were either on buses or in schools, and this morning, there are no children on buses and there are about 2,000 of the fulton county school system's children that are still in their schools. >> and robert gray is live from lasatlanta and how are you gettg around? because you had a rather dicey commute today. >> it is an understatement. and actually, the commute started yesterday at about 2:00 p.m. and went about 20 miles, and took about nine, ten hours, and this morning, along with our satellite truck, as we try to travers and get to a position, my car was on a steep hill.
and instead of going full force into another vehicle, we decided that we would turn the just like many people around the atlanta area who decided that they don't want to brave the roads and leave their cars on the sides of the roads. the interstate was absolute mayhem yesterday. and in fact, today, sheets of ice, and where i am right now in my vehicle, there are about 20 cars off of the uc side that are still here and a couple of school buses down the road. >> i know that the state is trying to figure out how to get the parents to the chirp, but from where you stand, how hard is that going toking be with a lot of parents still stuck in traffic, and a lot of students still stuck in school? >> i would say a monumental
challenge, because this is a very hilly area, and a city that's not prepared for storms like this, even though there are 40 snowplows and 30 spreaders as the mayor says, but the ice on these roads is indescribable. you could literally put skates on your feet and have a hockey game. it's that bad. and many of the roads are impassible. even if you got to your car and wanted to do this, you couldn't get to the school to make that happen. so a lot of questions that people have in the aftermath. as i talked to people out here this morning, many people are wondering, why were the schools not closed yesterday? three weeks ago, the city closed the schools because of subzero weather and so precipitation, so why not yesterday, nobody that we were getting a storm? that's a big question that a lot of people have here, and that's a big question for folks in the area and especially in atlanta. >> robert joining us from georgia, and lisa janik is the
spokesman for the emergency management and she joins us by phone as well. a lot of people asking, do you have questions as to why the schools weren't closed yesterday. >> school closings are a local decision, and they make the best decision based on the information that they have at the time. so a lot of them were working to make sure that they have the children safe. and unfortunately this winter mix came in much earlier than anticipated. and it was much worse than anticipated. and as a result, a lot of students were released at the same time a lot of office workers were released and that's what caused the gridlock. >> and i will apologize to you as you don't make the decision as to when the schools are closed. but give us the latest update, how many cars are still stick being out on the roads and still stuck? and how many accidents are you reporting? >> well, our number one focus is to clear the roads, and we're
working with our state agency partners to do that. and so we're working with the department of transportation and patrol to get the roads clear. as far as how many are stranded on the road, we don't know, and one is too many for us, and we want to get the roads as clear as possible. as far as accidents, the georgia state parole is reporting 1,000 crashes. >> how are you going to get to all of the people sitting in their cars if they have literally turned atlanta into parking lots? >> the georgia national guard has been activated and they have units out helping to get the stranded motorists life saving resources like food and water, and we have tips for those inside of their cars. stay inside of your car unless you see a building near you where you can get warm and be safe. if you are in your car, make
sure that you run your engine intermittently to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. keep your seat belt on. don't let another vehicle hit you and be sure to stay hydrated. >> lisa, she's joining us by phone, and lisa, thank you very much. and warning everybody in georgia right now, when does it all stop. and really, when are they going to be able to get out of their cars? >> the latest radar shows just off of the coast of north carolina, south carolina heading to georgia, and light snow across the gulf coast states, but the mix area, this is push being south, but slowing down. and you can see the movement over the past few hours, and it's slowly beginning to clear out, but as it stalls out, the low pressure is moving along it, and that will keep this moisture
coming down and sleet or snow, depending on the temperature in the next few hours. alabama, 19, and 31 in savannah, georgia. so right here is where this freezing line is, and that's about where it will stay. the temperature will climb up to briefly hit freezing this afternoon, and any melting will refreeze overnight tonight. finally some relief by tomorrow in the national forecast. >> president obama taking his state of the union message to the states today, after telling the nation, it's time to do something about the income gap between the rich and the poor. his first stop was in maryland. and mike mccarren was were him. >> after president obama's state of the union speech, it's a campaign style event really. complete with bruce springsteen.
the issues today in atlanta and maryland, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, a proposal that he has tried to put forward. he has tried to go around congress, and leading up to the state of the union, he has a pen and a phone, and he's going to use them, but there's only a limited impact that he can have without congress, and that's what he's trying to do through he's public events and through the bully pulpit to try to get them to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. at a costco in maryland, this could be a breakthrough year, but nobody should have to raise a family in poverty. and it's a theme that he struck today. he's on to pittsburgh, pennsylvania, and just later this afternoon, he's going to be talking about another element to the state of the union, a mra, a
saves account for those who don't have employer-based savings plans, where they're trying to do something under the larger theme of erasing or alleviating income inequality in this country. so the president pushing hard. and whether he gets the minimum wage through congress, a lot of resistance in the house of representatives. but there are larger issues where he does stand a chance. immigration reform in particular. and that's what he's going to be aiming for. that's something that we heard him hit hard against the republicans last night. these other issues that he's pushing, specifically minimum wage and the extensof unemployment benefits, that do not look like they're in the cards, especially in the house. >> as mike pointed out, the president's next stop is just outside of pittsburgh. it reinvented itself after an economic bust 5 years ago. they are very proud of their turn around.
>> that's right, del, you know there was a time when steel was a big deal in this town, but areas of healthcare are really driving the region right now. the turnaround has made pittsburgh the poster child of economic recovery. >alissa ashwood, a california native, is among a number of entrepreneurs launching start ums in pittsburgh. >> pittsburgh is not a place i dreamed i would live! >> reporter: but it's here, a an area knowns as the nation's rust belt, where the 42-year-old wife is trying to make her dream a reality. in 2012, she started a company. it helps people organize their lives and their businesses. >> if you have a good idea that
can be proven in the midwest, and in pittsburgh especially, you can usually be very successful in every other market. >> but it wasn't always this way. 30 years ago, pittsburgh was at its worst as the city lost much of its steel in the industrial base in the early 80s, the economy collapsed. over 100,000 jobs were lost, and one quarter million people moved out. >> so it was really a steel depression in the early 1980s, and pittsburgh has had a long road to come back. >> bill leads the community development organization, and he says after the economic bust, reinvention was key in moving pittsburgh forward. healthcare, education, technology, and financial services fuel the economy here now. >> now we have hundreds of companies employing tens of thousands of people that didn't exist 30 years ago when we began. >> reporter: however, with unemployment hovering just above
6%, chris, a regional economist at the university of pittsburgh says there's still a lot of work to do. >> i think that a lot of challenges remain in the mill towns in the region, certainly the places where steel was, the smart communities have really not been able to move past the worst of the job loss. >> in light of that, bill flanagan said that the goal now is to train people to meet the demand of the new jobs like entrepreneurs like alissa ashwood have to offer. >> the cool thing about being part of a community, when you do something great, other people come tore support you and amplify t >> reporter: which can lead to more communities and more economic growth. and we're outside of a u.s. steel plant outside of pittsburgh, and the president is expected to take the stage in a little bit over an hour. i'm told that he's expected to
highlight the retirement plan that he spoke about last night in the state of the union address. >> my grandfather worked in those plants. joining us live from pennsylvania. thank you very much. in the ukraine, the parliament trying to decide whether to grant amnesty to the people arrested during the demonstrations there. the president refuses to step aside. jennifer glass is in kiev, and are you getting any clue as to what parliament might be thinking for their next move? >> reporter: well, there are a few draft laws in parliament right now, and they're trying to figure out which one they're going to vote on, and the question is not necessarily what amnesty, but who gets it and what conditions. and the government wants opposition to leave government buildings and the streets before amnesty is granted. and the demonstrators here say we're not leaving before the people are freed. there are about 100 protesters in jail right now for carrying
out protests against the government in the last two months ago. and the opposition wants to see those freed immediately without conditions, and the government said at least leave government buildings, or leave government buildings and protests on the streets. but the protesters say that's their leverage. and it's only because they came out that they're getting what they want from the government. parliament is still in session tonight and still trying to figure out how to get that done, and in an emergency session, they might head into a third day tomorrow. >> as it continues, and as the days go by, parliament must be under incredible pressure. >> reporter: there is still a lot of pressure, but president yanokovych, it's his party of reagents along with the coalition that has the slim majority. and its getting slimmer by the day, but there's a lot of pressure, not only from the people on the streets, but the
demonstrations spread beyond kiev, from the east and the stronghold, but also vice president biden has called president yanokovych in the last couple of days, and we're hearing from the european union, they have two delegations in town encouraging him to make sure that he represents the people. and moves to a way that's inclusive, and giving freedom of expression and assembly here. a lot not only inside of the ukraine, but internationally as well to solve the crisis going on for two months. >> jennifer, thank you very much. elsewhere a small glimmer of hope in the syrian peace talks. the regime using a document. the assad government saying that they should focus on ending the fighting first, and also getting aid into the city. the activists say in the
government in the city of aleppo continue the shelling in southern damascus today. in egypt, in kairo, appearing in court today. he and four other aljazeera colleagues are held without charges. they have all been held now for a month, and two other journalists from our sister channels have been held for half a year. calling for the release. >> for a great nation like egypt to treat people doing their job asker journalists, which is an ethical and a decent job, which all decent societies need. but egypt of all countries, to treat journalists in this way is a shame on that nation. > >> just last week, arizona
it will be one of the country's polices and business people. the prosecution will argue that government computers were hacked into, and sumses of private money were transferred into private accounts, and the amounts are staggering. the country's president estimates that as much as 30% of the country's budget has been stolen over the past decade. it was president joyce bander that ordered the investigation that has led to the criminal proceedings, though evidence indicates that the widespread corruption that flourished under a previous administration didn't end when she took office. she went to oversea the process, and the man was arrested this week on charges of stolen money. >> who could have people in our
country doing that to their own country. because what i'm seeing, the whole thing is not just about theft. >> the president, says that the most power of theful must face justice. >> in fact, she went further to say that even if it means my family, that person should be arrested and nobody should be spared. >> the long-suffering were sceptical when she took office. and the world watches a tarnished nation. mike hannah, aljazeera. >> yesterday's rally on wall street is a distant memory. the dow falling down 111 points. and emerging markets in central
turkey and south africa raised their interest rates to prop up the currency there. all eyes on the federal reserve, and they will decide whether to pull back on monetary stimulus programs further. the fed started reducing the purchases this month. and the meeting is also the last for the former fed chairman, bernanke, yellen will be taking over on february 1st. investigating the massive data breach at target over the holidays. and the officials are looking at anyone trying to exploit the stolen information for credit card fraud. home mortgage applications are down with refinances. re-fi activity is at the slowest since september. though interest rates are at a two month low, the average loan is 4.25%, down from the week before. and a programming note, ali
>> welcome back to aljazeera america. i'm del walters. and here are the headlines. a deep freeze in the south bringing freeways to a standstill. it took some people ten hours to get home from the ice storm. >> other. >> president obama delivering the state of the union address tomorrow. and speaking at a costco in maryland this morning. he vowed to do something about inequality, even if congress wouldn't act. >> . >> the syrian government agreeing that they will use a
2012 geneva one document for their negotiations. the government calls that not something that they are really interested. they are balking at calls for president assad to step down. dogs are usually used by cops to find the bad guys and drugs and explosives, but now some are being trained -- . jonathan martin has the story. >> good man. >> jammer has an exceptional sense of smell, and he will work hard for food. a couple of months ago he was in a shelter, and now he's being trained to work with federal agents. >> we have the dogs employed to catch those people that are smuggling. >> the u.s. department of agriculture center was already training dogs to sniff out insect pests and agriculture.
and now rhinoceros horns that can be smuggled in packages. the u.s. division of wildlife said that illegal trafficking is pushing some species near extinction. >> so the demand for these dogs is increasing. >> it is, we have customers in california and florida, and we service other foreign governments, and the largest client is border protection. >> so he's looking for things smuggled into cargo areas. >> the dogs are stationed at the international areas in the u.s., along with centers in the country. they search a large number of parcels and luggage quickly. >> it's kind of alarming the statistics that come out and you never monitored it before, and you are monitoring and you get a baseline of statistics that are high. >> the dogs are trained for 13
weeks. they go through extensive temperament and medical screening. they must stay in shape. while the work can be rigorous, the usda trainers say that there are big benefits for the dogs. >> 70% of our dogs probably come from shelters, so it's an actual life-saving moment from them. because they come out of the shelter and they're willing to do almost anything for us as long as they have a great food drive, and they love their jobs. >> helping to save the time and the population of species through their sense of smell. aljazeera, noonan, georgia. >> finally, it's a bird, a plane. he looks like a character out of a comic book, and in the vatican, they seem to approve. by the way, velary on the statue
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